Electronic Design

Friends Everywhere

Like many beginning inventors, Joseph F. Keithley was his own salesman and used his extensive range of contacts. One day, says Yeager, ?he put a Phantom Repeater in a suitcase and went to the Naval Ordnance Lab, visiting old friends.

?He had a wide range of friends,? says 77-year-old John Yeager, Keithley's first employee, who still works at Keithley Instruments as an application engineer. He recalls one of the first times they went together to an Instrument Society of America conference in Buffalo. ?We couldn't walk past more than 15 people in the exhibit hall without someone coming up and saying, ?Hi Joe,'? says Yeager.

Keithley applied the same friendliness to his employees, knowing each by name. He personally passed on his values of quality, service, integrity, and innovation. Hoersten still remembers how Keithley would walk up and down the lab aisles, talking to workers about their projects, even young workers fresh out of school like himself.

?He was a very hands-on chairman. Even though the company was pretty large by the time I joined 25 years ago, he understood the importance of walking around, of understanding what was going on in engineering,? says Hoersten.

?When I was a young engineer, he would stop by where I was working to ask questions about the design and ask how it was going. It was his way of keeping up quality,? continues Hoersten. ?Yet, I would be pretty impressed that the chairman was working so closely with employees. It made you feel good. It was his way of making everyone feel they were important.?

?If he talked to you, he would relate how this product would solve a particular customer's problem,? concluded Hoersten. ?He was very customer-driven. It was important to him that we were solving customer problems.?

After he retired, Joe continued to work in the office several days a week. One of his last projects would also turn out to be one of his most lasting. Joe realized that his company was merely the most recent contributor to measurement science, and he set out to chronicle the impact that scientists and engineers have had in this field throughout history.

His efforts eventually turned into a book published by IEEE Press, The Story of Electrical and Magnetic Measurements . While most say electrical measurement began with Ben Franklin, Joe told the story going back to the days of Socrates. It was such attention to people, detail, and accuracy that made a difference at Keithley Instruments.

That's why Keithley Instruments adamantly carries on the founder's legacy, offering quality, precision hardware and software solutions that measure and control electrical, physical, and periodic data. To today's engineering students, Keithley left the legacy of an entire engineering field. If not for Keithley, the industry may not have such a wide variety of precise measurement tools at its fingertips. He enabled the worldwide electronics industry, and as a result, greater scientific discoveries.
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